E.A. Sports Today

Range of emotions

Piedmont goes the distance, but falls to Providence Christian in three games

By Shannon Fagan
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — The Piedmont Bulldogs rode a roller coaster of emotions throughout their Class 3A state baseball title series with Providence Christian.

With their backs against the wall after losing the series opener on Tuesday, the Bulldogs battled back Wednesday at Riverwalk Stadium to stay alive with a dramatic 5-4 victory on Brant Deerman’s walk-off single in the ninth.

The momentum of that win carried over early into the winner-take-all Game 3 and the Bulldogs built a 3-0 lead through two innings. But they couldn’t hold it and fell 16-6 in six innings to finish runner-up for the second time in coach Matt Deerman’s three years as head coach.

The Eagles (30-9) tied the game with three runs in the top of the third, took the lead with two in the fourth and a disastrous eight-run fifth put the Bulldogs (36-10) in an 11-run hole from which they couldn’t recover.

“We thought if we could get that second game, we thought we could get to their game 3 guy,” Matt Deerman said. “We did get the lead, but things just started falling apart. We walked guys, made a couple of errors. We couldn’t ever find that out that one inning they really banged us up.”

Piedmont was cruising right along in the first two innings. TJ Fairs led off the game with a walk and eventually scored on a passed ball to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.They added two more runs in the second on RBI-singles by designated hitter Nick Johnson and Fairs.

But things fell apart from the third inning on.The Eagles broke it open with a nine-run fifth. They sent 13 batters to the plate and their first eight reached base.

“We knew real quick we couldn’t feel sorry for ourselves (Wednesday’s opener),” Providence Christian coach Casey Smith said. “It was a really good job by our guys to move past that and get ready to play (the second game). These guys are going to battle. They’re going to play as hard as they can. They’re not going to let nerves overcome them one bit.”

Down 14-3 in the fifth, Piedmont extended the game with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Mason Mohon singled home Fairs and then, with two outs, Brant Deerman delivered a two-run single to left to make the score 14-6.

But Providence Christian scored two more runs off Bulldog reliever Jack Hayes on a two-run single by Brayden Banner, which proved to be the final.Banner drove in four runs for the Eagles.

Will Solomon earned the win for the Eagles in relief of starter David Warren, who developed a blister on his hand. Solomon threw 5 2/3 innings and gave up five earned runs on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts.

Silas Thompson, the third of five Piedmont pitchers, took the loss working just 1 2/3 innings. He gave up four earned runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout.

Fairs and Bryce Walter both went 2-for-3 for the Bulldogs. Fairs scored twice and drove in a run. Walter had two RBIs. Brant Deerman and Mohon both had a hit and scored a run. Mohon also drove in a run. Johnson finished with a hit, scored a run and drove in another.

“It hurts right now, but when these guys sit back and look at what they did over the course of the past three months, they’ll realize they really accomplished a lot,” Matt Deerman said. “Every time their backs were against the wall, they always competed. They never gave up –even in this last game right there at the end. They still believed they had a chance. They kept on competing. I’m super proud of them.”

In the first game of the day Piedmont built a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. The Bulldogs scored a run in the second on Johnson’s single to left that scored Sean Smith.

The Bulldogs added a pair of runs in the third. Fairs led off with his third double of the series. He advanced to third on Brant Deerman’s sacrifice and singles by Mohon Smith’s loaded the bases. Jack Hayes then drilled a two-run double to make it 3-0.

Providence Christian scored a run in the top of the fourth on a RBI single by Grayson Stewart, but Piedmont got it back in the fourth on Mohon’s triple and Smith’s sacrifice fly.

The Eagles tied the game in the sixth, batting around and scoring three runs.

Austin Estes, the Bulldogs’ speedy No. 9 hitter, led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single. Fairs moved him over with a sacrifice and Brant Deerman brought him home, giving the Bulldogs life, with a single to right.

“He kind of got behind and threw a fastball away,” Brant Deerman said. “I just took it the other way. Estes has a lot of speed, and he scored.”

Hayes, Smith and Mohon each had a pair of hits and a RBI in the game. Brant Deerman and Johnson both had a hit and a RBI.

Mohon earned the win in relief of Walter, who worked 5 1/3 innings. Walter faced the minimum through 3 1/3, then an error and two singles got Providence Christian on the board. He gave up two earned runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Mohon worked the final 3 2/3 innings, allowed three walks and two hits, but didn’t give up a run.

“We had a great season,” Mohon said. “(A school-record) 36 wins is not too shabby. We didn’t come out on top, but we’ve got good coaches who are proud of us and I’m proud of everybody else. We played hard all season. We never gave up.”

Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald.

Game 2
Providence Christian   000 103 000 – 4 8 2
Piedmont                    012 010 001 – 5 10 2
WP: Mason Mohon. LP: Will Solomon. 2B: Will Solomon (PC), T.J. Fairs (P), Jack Hayes (P). 3B: Mason Mohon (P).
Game 3
Providence Christian   003 292 – 16 13 5
Piedmont                    120 030 – 6 6 2
WP: Will Solomon. LP: Silas Thompson. 

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